To illustrate I will go to the font of all life lessons, at least in the tri-state area, the Wawa. (For those of you unfamiliar with the treasure that is the Wawa, you may substitute, anemically, the 7-Eleven).
The first sign that I am in the way occurs upon entering the parking lot, the most dangerous place to drive in the world. Forget the autobahn, driving in a Wawa parking lot may be the bravest or most foolish thing you will ever do. Everyone is in a hurry to get something, or, once gotten, to leave. They are most likely driving with one hand, or just their knees, while they sip coffee or cram biscuit breakfast sandwiches down their starving and time-crunched throats. And though I see my spot inviting me in the distance, I cannot get there with any efficiency as someone will always be just pulling out, and turning the wrong way while issuing me a look of condescending disgust that not only have I not reversed out of their way, but that I, in fact, exist at all.
Once parking is secured and I have recovered from the blow to my self esteem, I make my way into the Wawa itself, usually to order a meal for one of my ravenous offspring because I ran out of, well, you name it, and could not make them a socially acceptable meal, because, apparently, a bag of multigrain wheat thins and a recyclable container of cinnamon life are not considered a square meal anymore. Once inside, no matter where I stand, whether it is to pick something to drink out of one of the refrigerated cases or to wait for a specially ordered breakfast sandwich(because, of course, they only like one kind, and if it's not on a bagel or if it has turkey sausage rather than mystery sausage it is inedible and how could I not know that), no matter where I stand, I am in someone's way. I'm in the way of the array of coffee urns. Once that is sidestepped I am in the way of the creamer/sugar island. After I dodge that, I am in the way of the trash. Once that is cleared I try to position myself where no one goes in the Wawa, in front of the "healthy snack" rack, but I seem to be there during the one and only three minutes when the transplant from Northern California is jonesing for a Clif bar, and am, of course, in his way. Even when I make it through the check out, the mere act of me putting my change away in my wallet and my wallet back in my purse, puts me directly in the way of the next customer who also seems dismayed at the fact of my existence.
Then back out to the parking lot where my only goal is to get out of people's way, but the inexcusable act of exiting my parking space puts me directly in the way of others exiting, and still others entering quickly with little regard for human life, to occupy the spot which was just vacated, but not by me, because I am in the way by being there and by trying to leave.
The Wawa is not at fault here; nor are her mighty patrons. And I am not at fault either, though I am faulty. The faultiness is not because I am in the way, it is because I assume I am in the way. It's probably because I was raised catholic, or I'm the youngest of six, or I'm a woman, or, more likely it is my own unique ME-ness that walks into any situation convinced that I am an inconvenience. This has caused me to spend an inordinate amount of my life apologizing for my inconvenience by trying to provide others with what they need before they know they need it and have a chance to question my relevance for not having known it in the first place (see bagel parable above). And I've been so busy doing all that, that I never took time to think about what I want at the Wawa.
Now I'm not sure whether to be proud or embarrassed to be having a self-awareness epiphany based on the Wawa. I'm going to choose proud, because at least it didn't happen in a 7-Eleven(did I just lose some of you there?). Ok, back to the regularly scheduled epiphany. Since I've spent so much time apologizing for, or proving the worth of my existence, I have rarely pondered the possibility that my existence is simply a fact, and my presence is not an automatic nuisance (though 7-Eleven is filing an injunction right now). My presence has the potential to alter the universe, for better or for worse, for large or for small, even if it means someone has to manage a few extra steps on the way to the French vanilla coffee dispenser.
There are two phrases gifted to me by two fabulous people that come to mind in the midst of this decidedly un-Aristotelean epiphany:
The first from a friend who learned when an Italian gentleman, baffled by the frequency with which the words "I'm sorry" crossed her lips, offered a simple alternative, say "I'm sexy" instead.
The second from my father. When bombarded by perceived and concocted doom and gloom he issues this warning: "You must be prepared for the possibility that things could go well."
So tomorrow I will venture forth assuming things will go well, because I'm bringing sexy back to the Wawa. You're welcome Justin Timberlake.